Raspberry Sundae peony

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Bright, bold, and adding a pop of color to your yard, peonies are known for their crisp aromas and sweet scents. These flowers are perfect for any garden or flower bed.

Raspberry Sundae peony is a soft pink and yellow bicolor peony cultivar with fluffy bombe-type petals. Individual flowers are 5″-7″ wide and have a floral sweet fragrance, blooming in mid-spring. Plants grow about 36″ tall, with an overall foliage width of 30″-36″ wide when established. The Raspberry Sundae peony was bred by Carl Klehm of Illinois (USA) and introduced in 1968. Raspberry Sundae is a cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora. You can grow them by getting a potted plant from the nursery or bare root.

If you have a flower bed or a garden (or just want to add a splash of color to your yard), Raspberry Sundae peonies are a great addition. Read on to learn all about the famous Raspberry Sundae peony!

Raspberry sundae peony

Raspberry Sundae peony: The basics

The Raspberry Sundae Peony is a cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora known for its unique pink and yellow coloration and sweet fragrance. This popular flower was bred in Illinois by Carl G. Klehm. The American Peony Society honored Carl Klehm in 1966 with the Silvia Award (Society of American Florists). The Khlem family has produced many notable peony varieties throughout previous decades, including the Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony.

Raspberry Sundae was bred from Charley’s White Peony and an unnamed peony grown from seed by Klehm. The first flower was observed in 1951 and the cultivar was introduced to the public in 1968 (source: American Peony Society).

Flowers of the Raspberry Sundae Peony truly do resemble the dessert they are named after, with creamy vanilla-yellow petals matched up with a berry-pink topping. Flowers are large (5″-7″ wide) bombe-type flowers with many layers of fluffy petals. Outer petals are pink and are wider than the thinner pink and yellow petals in the middle. Raspberry Sundae Peonies tend to bloom in mid-late spring. Compared to other perennials or peonies, Raspberry Sundae is considered a Mid-Season bloomer.

Raspberry Sundae Peony plants do take years to grow to mature size. At full-grown size, the beautiful plants are generally 36″ tall and have a width of 30″-36″ across. Despite the name “Raspberry Sundae”, peonies are not edible. They are, however, gorgeous flowers that would be a wonderful addition to any garden.

What type of peony is the Raspberry Sundae peony classified as?

Raspberry Sundae Peony plants (Paeonia lactifloraRaspberry Sundae’) are herbaceous perennial peony plants with bombe-type peony flowers that bloom early in peony growing season (mid-Spring).

Peonies come in six main types of flower forms: Single, Anemone, Japanese, Semi-Double, Bombe, and Full Double. Peonies considered bombe-type, like Raspberry Sundae, are a special type of double flowers peony. Specifically, its double flowers form an outer “guard” petals that are longer and wider than the inner transformed petals (although the inner petals do unfurl quite a bit as blooms mature). Another bombe-type peony named after a dessert is the bright-pink Sorbet Peony (pictured below in a bouquet with the Raspberry Sundae Peony).

There are three main types of peony plants: tree, herbaceous, and intersectional. Raspberry Sundae peonies are among the herbaceous category of peony plants. These plants sprout anew from their peony roots each spring, and will typically grow to be about 3 feet tall by the middle of spring. Then, they will bloom and go on to display deep green foliage throughout summer and even into early fall. They usually die back to their roots after the first hard frost comes.

They can be grown by buying the potted plants from the nursery or as bare root plants.

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Raspberry sundae peony (bottom center) with some sorbet peonies (top center, bottom left)

How do you plant a bare-root Raspberry Sundae peony?

When planting a bare-root Raspberry Sundae peony plant, dig a hole that’s large enough for you to spread out the roots without needing to bend them to make it fit. Set the crown with flower buds about 1 inch below ground level. The peony buds, called “eyes”, are small white/pink bits on the otherwise brown and woody root. Be sure to place the root in the ground so the eyes are facing up towards the sky, as they will grow upwards to become the stems.

Fall is the best time of year to plant bare-root peonies, but make sure to plant them at least 6 weeks before the ground freezes. This will give them the best chance of blooming the following spring. Raspberry Sundae bare-root peonies can also be planted in early spring.

Raspberry Sundae peonies should be planted in a place where they can get plenty of sunlight. Herbaceous varieties require at least 5 to 6 hours of full sun each day. The loamy soil they’re planted in should have good drainage and their roots should never be left standing in water. They also shouldn’t be planted near any large trees or shrubs. This is because they don’t like having root competition and they need their own space. Check on the plants regularly to make sure they are developing properly and water them thoroughly when you notice the soil drying up in a timely manner.

Peonies need very minimal fertilizer so be careful when adding them to the soil.

How far apart do I need to plant these peonies?

Raspberry Sundae peonies should be planted and spaced out about 3 to 4 feet apart. This type of peony plant will usually spread to be about 3 feet wide, so you’ll need to have them spaced out at least that much. They are on the larger end of the spectrum in terms of peony sizes.

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How tall do Raspberry Sundae peonies grow?

Raspberry Sundae peonies can grow to be about 2.5 to 3 feet tall. They can spread to be about 2.5 to 3 feet wide as well. Good well drained soil, adequate water for its needs, and plenty of sunlight will help your peony plant to grow strong. If it’s given the care that it needs, this plant will be able to thrive and grow to its full size.

Do Raspberry Sundae peony plants need support?

Because of the floriferous nature of peony plants, it is recommended that you install some sort of support system for peony plants, such as grow-through peony rings.

Since the flowers are typically so large, full, and heavy, they can tend to droop (especially after a good rainstorm and water has collected on the flowers’ many petals). The stems can snap under the weight or simply droop so far that the flowers rest on the ground and rot.

How to grow Raspberry Sundae peony plants?

You can grow these peonies by repotting the potted plant you get from the nursery. Raspberry Sundae plants are easy to grow once the roots are well-established in the soil. If the peony is watered deeply and on a consistent basis for the first few years, it will likely be very resilient in terms of resisting drought and disease.

Most peony plants love getting plenty of sunlight. The proper amount of sun exposure can help to maximize the bloom time and size of a peony. Take note of any areas that are providing too much shade and impeding access to sunlight.

Herbaceous peonies, including Raspberry Sundaes, are quite resilient. They can live and thrive for 50 years or more. Each winter, their stems will die and go back to the ground. Then, they will reemerge in the springtime.

Herbaceous peonies are low maintenance and require little water. They are naturally resistant to most pests and aren’t typically bothered by deer. They may however be susceptible to powdery mildew.

Deadheading should be done regularly. As such, make sure to remove spent flowers as they grow in order to maintain the health of the plant!

Raspberry sundae peony
Raspberry sundae peony

When do Raspberry Sundae peonies bloom?

Raspberry Sundae peonies will typically bloom in mid-May or early June. Each herbaceous plant will usually bloom for about 7 to 10 days on average. To extend the peony bloom in general to about 6 or 7 weeks, try to grow a combination of different types of peonies that bloom in the early, mid, and late growing season.

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.